Expert Recommendation

.
Best Digital SLR Camera for Action Photos Under $3000
Expert (53 Recommendations and 31 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
December 15, 2009 Updated: December 16, 2009
Overview

With a frame rate of 4 fps and AI Servo autofocusing, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II is my Best in Class for action photos. Add 9 point autofocus, high ISO capabilities, a body that is sealed against inclement weather and lightweight enough to hold comfortably, and it makes a great travel companion when big, high quality images are what you want to bring back from faraway places.

Best badge
My Best In Class Pick
Canon EOS 5D Mark II (Body Only)

When the only thing that matters when buying a DSLR is quality and innovation, then the Canon EOS 5D Mark II is the best choice in a sea of robust cameras.

Starting with a full frame 21.1mp imaging sensor, a bright 3.0” LCD, Live View, HD video (1080p) and a Digic IV processor, the 5D Mark II ups the ante with an ISO range of 100-6400 (expandable to 50-25,600), rear button focus for added control and nearly 4 fps speed.

Built compact and lightweight to fit comfortably in your hand, the magnesium alloy body resists some of the worst that mother nature can throw at it. Caught in the rain? No problem. Wind kicking up, keep on shooting. With the EOS Integrated Cleaning System, the 5D Mark II will activate sensor cleanup as soon as you power up. In a hurry, the process stops as soon as you depress the shutter.

It’s a known fact that a camera is only as good as the lenses you put on it, but with 9 point auto focus, an AI Servo auto focus mode for tracking moving subjects (great for sports) and Digic IV making sure everything is as true as your eye caught it, you can expect to create magazine quality images with ease.

And for innovation, send your images directly to your computer with the optional WFT-E4 wireless transmitter or shoot remotely by connecting directly to your pc with the supplied USB cable.

Instant manipulation of your RAW images can be a fun creative exercise too with Digital Photo Professional Software. Picture Style software lets you mimic film styles, and by simply consulting the Canon website you can get tons of help with tutorials on all the amazing functions now available.

Cutting edge is the first thing that comes to mind when describing the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. A true Best in Class pick.

Comparison with Canon EOS 7D (Body Only)

The 7D has a smaller imaging sensor but can shoot at 8 fps. The 7D also has a popup flash and the 5D Mark II does not. The real difference comes down to your needs, professional or hobbyist. The 5D Mark II is definetely a professional camera.

Comparison with Nikon D700 (Body Only)

Although these two cameras share a lot - price, media card, sensor size, ISO and LCD size - the D700 has no video but does have a popup flash. Otherwise, the biggest deciding factor has to be whether or not you have good lenses for either camera.

Pros
  • +
    Digic IV
  • +
    HD video
  • +
    Remote shooting capability
  • +
    WiFi capability
Cons
  • -
    No popup flash
Canon EOS 5D Mark II (Body Only) is the Best Digital SLR Camera for Action Photos Under $3000
Where to buy
Canon EOS 5D Mark II (Body Only)
  • Best Price: $2199
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Canon WFT-E4A Wireless Transmitter for Canon 5D Mark II Digital SLR
    $899.95 @ Amazon.com
  • Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Standard Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras
    $1289.44 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Resolution: 21.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.2 sec
  • Burst Speed: 3.9 fps
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Canon EOS 5D Mark II (Body Only)
2
Canon EOS 7D (Body Only)
3
Nikon D700 (Body Only)
Customer Rating
Price $2199.00 $1579.00 $2199.00
Weight (with batteries) 32.5 oz 30.3 oz 38.6 oz
?
Effective Sensor Resolution
21.1 megapixels 18.0 megapixels 12.1 megapixels
Anti-Dust Available Yes Yes Yes
Power to First Shot Time 0.1 sec 0.4 sec 0.4 sec
HD Video Available Yes Yes No
Max ISO Setting 25600 12800 25600
?
LCD Screen Size
3.0 in. 3.0 in. 3.0 in.
Storage Media CompactFlash Card, MicroDrive CompactFlash Card CompactFlash Card
Computer Interface USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (480 Mbit/s) USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (480 Mbit/s) USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (480 Mbit/s)
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
Max Shooting Speed (burst) 3.9 frames/sec 8.0 frames/sec 5.1 frames/sec
2
Canon EOS 7D (Body Only)

In the reversal of a trend to reach for the stars when it comes to megapixels, sensor sizes and ISO ratings, the Canon EOS 7D took a step back and designed a camera with features that will please even the most earnest photographer.

This time around, the Canon EOS 7D has an 18mp APS-C CMOS sensor with an ISO range of 100-6400 (expandable to 12,800). It still has a 3.0” LCD that includes an ambient light sensor built in to adjust the screens brightness, but has upped the auto focus system to have 19 points plus the ability to shoot for shallow depth of field without losing focus when recomposing with its Dual-axis Electronic Level Display, perfect for portraiture.

Built lightweight and tough, the 7D features an ergonomically designed body of Magnesium Alloy that has all the buttons and dials strategically placed for ease of use. In fact, Canon was so determined to get this one right, they surveyed over 5000 photographers for their input. And it shows.

Some of the more obvious upgrades are speed (8 fps), dual Digic IV processors, wireless flash control and an LCD screen that gives you 100% coverage.

With all these features, the 7D may be your last camera, unless you use it up through constant use, which is a definite possibility.

Comparison with Nikon D700 (Body Only)

The 7D has got a larger sensor and HD video than the D700, otherwise these two cameras are quite similar (except for price). The type of lenses you may currently have should determine which way to go when picking one of these great DSLR’s.

Pros
  • +
    Fast
  • +
    Dual Digic IV
  • +
    100% LCD coverage
  • +
    Lightweight
Canon EOS 7D (Body Only) is one of the Best Digital SLR Cameras for Action Photos Under $3000
Where to buy
Canon EOS 7D (Body Only)
  • Best Price: $1579
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Canon WFT-E5A Wireless File Transmitter for Canon 7D Digital SLR Camera
    $638.24 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Resolution: 18.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.1 - 0.2s
  • Burst Speed: 8.0 fps
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com
3
Nikon D700 (Body Only)

The Nikon D700 does a good job of keeping up with the competition without succumbing to the more-is-better attitude.

To that end, the D700 has a full frame CMOS sensor with only 12.1mp but can get from 200-6400 ISO with a boost down to 100 or up to 25,600, thanks to the powerful EXPEED high-speed image-processing system. There is Live View but no video, 5 fps shooting capability with 8 fps available when adding the optional battery pack (MB-D10) and a popup flash which is unusual for this class of SLR.

The LCD screen is a gaping 3.0” with 920,000 pixels of sharpness with a 170 degree viewing angle, featuring a Virtual Horizon Indicator during Live View mode so you can make sure that everything is level and straight, perfect for setting up landscape shots.

Built tough with a rugged Magnesium Alloy body designed ergonomically to fit comfortably in your hand, the D700 has placed all of the essential buttons and dials within easy reach and features a Dynamic Integrated Dust Reduction System so you can go anywhere and shoot under difficult situations. The body is tightly sealed against the elements, until you start using the popup flash, then be careful.

And to make sure you get the best image under any conditions, the D700 features the MultiCam 3500FX autofocus module with five different modes: 9-area, 21-area, 51-area, and 51-area with 3D tracking.

Finally, after your images, are safely stored away on your compact flash card, quickly transmit them via WiFi with the optional WT-4A wireless transmitter.

Pros
  • +
    Fast
  • +
    Popup flash
  • +
    High ISO
Cons
  • -
    No video
Nikon D700 (Body Only) is one of the Best Digital SLR Cameras for Action Photos Under $3000
Where to buy
Nikon D700 (Body Only)
  • Best Price: $2199
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Nikon MB-D10 Multi Power Battery Pack for Nikon D300 & D700 Digital SLR Cameras
    $242.24 @ Amazon.com
  • Nikon WT-4A Wireless Transmitter for Nikon D700, D3 and D300 DSLR Cameras
    $709.00 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.2 sec
  • Burst Speed: 5.1 fps
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com

How It Works

You tell us your budget, intended uses, and desired features. We show you personalized recommendations from unbiased experts to quickly identify the best digital camera for you.

Advertisement

best hdtv Looking for an HDTV? BestInClass.com also provides expert recommendations for the best HDTV for you.